The Convocation of Horses

Chaussette and dawn horsesHorses at dawnI had the privilege of attending the Convocation of Horses this morning. I’d gotten up slightly before dawn to let Chaussette out, and we wandered over to the field behind our house. My neighbor Jacob had recently finished his corn picking there and had turned his horses out into the field to graze on the stalks, so Chaussette and I had made a habit of watching them in the morning (Chaussette more vocally than I, although she still prudently avoids the hooves that are almost as large as she.)
This morning was different, though: My neighbor Jonas had also turned his horses out into the neighboring field, so four newcomers were added to the normal equine gathering. To my intense delight, Beauty was among them. While most of the Amish horses display a distant curiosity but no inclination to make direct contact with an “English” person, Beauty is the exception. She’s been my friend for several years now; she was the first to learn that I was a source of apples come fall. (When the windfalls from our elderly and overgrown apple trees blanketed the ground, I fed them to the horses by the bucket until I realized last year that the neighbors could use them for cider.) Beauty would come for the apples and stay to be petted, and I spent many a happy hour with her face close to mine. For several years, I didn’t know her name; to me, she was just my “Horse Friend.” I finally described her to my neighbor Emma last year, though, and Emma said, “Oh! That’s Toby’s horse Beauty.”
The horses are always lovely to look at; their motions are placid, as though they are rocks in the river of time, unconcerned by the minutes frenetically rushing past them. They put their heads together and seem to be communing silently, the timelessness of their motions interrupted by the occasional nip and indignant whinny, placidity promptly returning. It’s generally a spectacle to be observed at a distance, though. I’ve occasionally touched a couple of the horses, but they move away indifferently.
Beauty is the only one who actively comes for her dose of ear scratches. I can’t quite define the attraction of petting a horse. Chaussette is much softer; even now that the horses are starting to lose their winter coats, their fur remains coarse. But the experience of having a horse’s face close to mine, when my whole world becomes brown fur and liquid eye, soft breath and smell of earth…I feel simultaneously eclipsed and part of a whole.
The horses wandered away eventually—even Beauty—and Chaussette and I returned inside to remain on duty for the moment when my son awakes. That’s where I am now, trying to write this before the impression that I was part of something eternal, something unhurried and unworried and old as the Earth, fades away. The Convocation of Horses has broken up now, and the child is beginning to stir, but now I’ll be able to remember those moments in the pink light of dawn, the song of birds, and the feel of warm breath in the frozen air.
P.S. My son woke up crying because he’d dreamed about playing with a toy bow and arrows, which I hadn’t bought for him in real life, and it took me awhile to calm him down. Bad parent that I am, I promised him we’ll look at the Variety Store today and see if it still has them. Reality has returned.


One comment

  1. “That’s where I am now, trying to write this before the impression that I was part of something eternal, something unhurried and unworried and old as the Earth, fades away.” It’s wonderful you look for and recognize those moments. Also, very well written.

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